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Jewish Journal

The Piano

by Rabbi Ilana Grinblat

May 13, 2012 | 6:45 pm

As dance class was about to begin, I struck up a conversation with my friend Dana, who was trying the class for the first time. “You’re going to love this class,” I told her, and explained how I’ve been enjoying these classes for the past couple months. I haven’t danced frequently since college, but now I’m getting back into it.

In January, I attended a dance class by accident. Sara, the mother of a child in my daughter’s preschool, invited us to a Chanukah dance jam which I thought was for children. As it turned out, the session was for adults, and I enjoyed it so much that I ended up going to Sara’s classes regularly. On days when I take the dance class, I feel more energetic and upbeat for the rest of the day and focused when I’m with the kids. I feel a bit funny about spending time and money on myself, but dancing is so uplifting that it’s worth it.

Dana explained that she had studied piano when she was younger. She has wanted to buy a piano for years but other expenses always take precedence. She’s been thinking that since playing piano for fifteen minutes each day will relax her and make her a better mom then it might be an important priority after all. Dana explained that she noticed that around age forty a lot of women are finding or rediscovering their passions, and it’s exciting to see. Some friends are going back to school; others are changing careers or pursuing new hobbies.

Last week’s portion contains a reiteration of the famous commandment to honor our parents. A central chapter of the Torah called the Holiness Code begins with a broad proclamation of principle: “You shall be holy, for I, the Lord Your God, am holy.”  The very next line offers the first specific instruction on how to achieve that goal: “Each person shall respect their mother and father…” 

Perhaps in addition to honoring our parents, we also need to respect what makes us better parents. This spring I’m taking that commandment more seriously.
With both my step-mother and mother-in-law living locally, Mother’s Day is normally a very busy day for our family. On Mother’s Day, I typically have lunch with my step-mother and dinner with my mother-in-law – making sure to call my grandmother in Connecticut and step-grandmother in New York between meals. Fittingly, the anniversary of my mother’s death falls on the day before mother’s day this year, so l said kaddish (the memorial prayer) for her at synagogue yesterday. 

This Mother’s day, I’m made one change in the usual plan. Before heading off to pay tribute to my “mothers,” I started the day off with a dance class.

Each one of us has things that can help us be more patient with our kids and more passionate in our activities. This mother’s day, in addition to honoring our parents, let’s also honor what we need to be great parents and vivacious people.

I hope that Dana decides to get her piano soon. In the meantime, I’ll definitely be dancing.

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